Saturday, October 31, 2009

It was a great Hallowe'en party!

Nikki (Cianchette) Steeves drove up to Machias from Pittsfield with her two adorable (and extraordinarily sweet and well behaved) boys for a special Halloween celebration with my daughter. The two "girls" were schoolmates and have remained close. There was pizza, a scavenger hunt and lots of making scary faces! Cole was a vampire and Drew was The Hulk, but had to forgo his mask because it scared Kiley!

It took him a while to figure out how to get the stem, but Drew did well in the apple dunking contest.

Cole plowed right in and went under - he was a bit tentative about biting, though - he has a loose tooth in the front!

Even my daughter Faye got in on the act!

And here is Kiley's booty: She thought it was much more fun to grab an apple from the water, eat a bit of it and then go for another. Not a bad idea after all....

Friday, October 30, 2009

cranberries galore!

Aren't they beautiful?? I went to a harvest this week and it was so interesting: men and women in waders, waist deep in 47 degree water, and the berries were so beautiful. Berries grown in Maine are three times the size of others and a much darker red...Yummy. I swear I would eat dog poop if it had cranberries in it. My favorite? Cranberry Orange

What a week: a stabbing, a trial for two boys accused of beating some other kids because the other kids are Indians, and a WHOLE bunch of other stuff. I'm not complaining though - some of my dear friends had to literally lock themselves in their homes because there was a manhunt for a killer in their neighborhood...Luckily they caught the guy nonchalantly having a cup of coffee this morning in a nearby restaurant. Clearly looney....

Today and this weekend are likely to be just as hectic. They still haven't found the two missing fishermen and I'm headed back to court today to deal with forgers!!!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Here I am ! Thanks for all your kind words....

This is my daughter, Faye, getting a tattoo from Tom - more on that later.

Friday actually was quite special. I was able to turn off and put away my little light in the window that I keep lit for Eric, who has been serving with the Army in Afghanistan. That handsome sergeant left Thursday night for the good old U.S.A.!!! He'll be home soon and I can't wait to get my hands on him!! We thought he wasn't going to be back until between Thanksgiving and Christmas so this is even more special.

In an effort to put that rotten week behind me, my daughter and I went on a shopping day in Ellsworth. No baby, no husband, just the two of us - I think it was the only time we've been just a pair in the 18 months since she had Kiley!

We had a ball - we hit Mardens first: great items!!! I got three new tops and a jacket, two new Halloween decorations and a Halloween book for Kiley that plays creepy sounds and I didn't spend $50!! We then went to Reny's and scored new winter mittens, etc., and some amazing malted milk balls covered with expresso and latte - oh my goddess, they are heavenly! We went to Home Depot and I got that puffy stuff that you seal up cracks with?? Wish me luck, I am attempting to seal the skunk out of my crawlspace tonight. I have already sprinkled flour around the hole so I'll know when he leaves, I have a dozens rocks that I'm going to fill the hole and pile on top and then I'll seal the whole thing with the puffy stuff. I also have a pile of golf balls waiting so that if he returns, I can pelt him and scare him away. If this doesn't work, I'm moving...

Our last stop on the shopping spree was Tom's Terrific Tattoos. I got the crown put on my little girl, officially making her a Queenie, and Faye got a sprinkling of stars that start up high on her shoulder and go to the front. Each star represents a family member and is the color of their birthdstones. It came out beautifully!

It poured on the way home and the wind and rain POUNDED all night but today is gorgeous - we spent much of the morning finishing outside chores to get ready for winter. I smashed my left pointer finger with the hammer - oooooo it is a ghastly shade of black and red - but we got so much done. Now I'm putting the finishing touches on my dinner. Faye and Matt and Kiley are coming over and I'm making a special caramel pudding cake for Matt since he not only let the dog out yesterday while we were gone, but he kept filling my woodstove so the house would be all warm and cozy. Now this is the kind of son-in-law everyone should have!!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Can't post tonight. I'm broken hearted.

I spent the day talking to sea urchin fishermen who are mourning the loss of three of their colleagues.

The Bottom Basher sank late yesterday in Cobscook Bay taking three young men with her to the bottom. One body has been recovered.

I am numb as is the entire Down East fishing community. This makes the sixth loss at sea in 11 months.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Quebec is a city full of art!

Even the garage doors are masterpieces - stupendous! Quebecians take advantage of every little space to bring art and beauty into their lives. There were tiny rooftop gardens, little backyard sanctuaries, and the window boxes were extravagant and still in bloom. The old city is enclosed in a wonderful stone wall - this is where the British and French fought with Canada as the prize - and even though the French lost, it is the predominant language. The beauty of the people, their language and their ways makes a visit oh so special.

Their ability to fine beauty everywhere obviously extends to the food - here at a restaurant called Largo - fabulous staff, unbelievable food. This is an olive tartine...

Even a simple Cobb Salad is divinely presented...

A little chocolate shop offered these amazing desserts....

And of course there is art at the Museum of Quebec - this chandelier, made completely of mismatched cups, saucers, dessert plates, candy dishes, etc., all in colored glass strung with fishing wire was so inspiring...

Even a simple door becomes art...

Or a light that represents a sea urchin.

Art, friends, wine - what more could I ask? We had a ball - we walked and ate and visited and laughed. All 11 of us enjoyed the weekend. Even the 4 1/2 hour ride up was entertaining because we had walkie-talkies in the three car caravan. Each evening, exhausted by all the walking up and down the hills of the old city, we gathered in my hotel room. We purchased salami, prosciutto, cheeses, olives, pate, fruit and candy at an amazing French market and then fig bread at a nearby bakery. We talked and laughed until we all began falling asleep.

Over and over this weekend I was struck by how fortunate I was to have this group of friends. They are smart - they are funny - and they are so dear to me. They are kind and caring, students of the world and loyal friends. I will save up each memory of this weekend and hold it close all winter long....

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A vacation week...

Heading out tomorrow to spend a day and night with my dear friend Sue on Unity Pond before she heads to Florida for the winter....
All those chairs the artists decorated will be auctioned off Friday night, and then Saturday morning 11 of us good friends leave for Quebec City. Oui oui - it is a French vacation for me!
I'll post when I can but be assured I may be in a food and wine induced coma.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The tax man went DOWN!

I met with the Machias assessor today - he had revalued my home at $30,000 more than I paid for it, based on faulty information. He was able to remove two bedrooms that I don't have, a 1/2 bath that I don't have, a full basement that I don't have, remove the deck as it is dangerously decrepit, and since the kitchen and bathroom haven't been redone since the 1950s, mark them as "not modern.'' The result? He dropped $14,000 off my assessment, cutting my taxes by nearly $300.

Not bad.

Thank you Trudy. Sometimes it really does pay to speak up for yourself.

Monday, October 5, 2009

I am never swimming in the ocean again!

I was on a sea urchin dragger today - for those of you not from Down East, sea urchins are spiny little mollusks, about the size of a small apple, that crawl along the bottom of the ocean eating seaweed with a beak on their underside.
When cracked open, they reveal a bright orange-colored roe called "uni" in Japan, where it is an expensive delicacy.
Just 10 years ago, urchins were considered a nuisance but after the Japanese fished out their own urchin, they turned to Maine, Russia and China for a new supply. The critters are now worth around $2 a pound and the Cambodian importers were meeting the boats right there on the dock this afternoon. The guy whose boat I went on got $4,000 for just today's harvest.

So, I was on this urchin dragger and when the basket is opened up and dumps its contents on a big work table at the back of the boat OH MY GODDESS what unGoddessly creatures there were to behold:
There were sea cucumbers, a shapeless thing that sort of looks like a cucumber on steriods that can puddle itself into a black, slimy pancake. oh so gross.
There were sea caterpillars, all hairy and tentacley on one side, and all fleshy and ribbed on the other. an even worse gross.
There were unknown and unnamed things that looked like a big giant snot and then small red and white critters that looked like a shrimp gone beserk.
There were also rocks, lovely starfish, small green crabs (which eat the urchin and so the deckhands stepped on each and every one of them) and scallops that sat and clacked their big shells open and shut.
We were only in about 31 feet of water. I am never sticking even so much as a toe in the ocean again now that I now those disgusting creatures are so close to shore.
I just know I'm going to have nightmares tonight....

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Cardinal Family: who knew?

Here is Mr. Cardinal - I call him Red - watching carefully from the branches of the evergreen next to all the feeders.

Here is his daughter, Coral Cardinal, boldly gazing back at me while eating the seeds that have spilled on the ground.

And here is the son, Rusty Cardinal, who is completely ignoring me today....All these pictures were taken at the same time: I have a cardinal family that visits my feeder center several times a day. Who knew that cardinals were so family-oriented? There is papa - so gorgeous in his brilliant red coat; mama, a soft brown with touches and hints of red and a pretty feather sticking up on the top of her head; and the kids, at this point I think there are two females and a male but they move back and forth so quickly I may be counting someone twice.

They come in and hide in the brushy limbs of the evergreens and then jump down to get all the seeds off the ground that the chickadees and nuthatches have dropped from the feeders.

Twice or three times a day they visit: parents watching from the branches, kids much more brazen about eating. Is this normal, for a bird family to take outings to the local drive-in together? I really thought that birds were solitary creatures....

I may be projecting but from my desk, but the view outside my window of this family coming to visit is the highlight of my day.